Do you fall asleep in lectures? (Do you even wake up for them?) Are you going to bed at the end of ‘Good Morning America’? Are you competing for World’s Longest Snooze Cycle? You’re probably doing all of these things because you’re a lazy college student and sleeping is for the weak. We understand; we do it too.
But sleeping is kind of important. After all, we do it for one-third of our lives (One-third! Woah!). Good quality sleep makes all the difference in the world — it’s the difference between morning and mourning. Do yourself a favor and have an intervention with yourself.
Here are our favorite apps and tricks for making sleep awesome.
Before We Begin, Stop Snoozing
Before you start using electronics to help, tackle the biggest problem: morning. Going to bed “on time” is not nearly as important as waking up on time, or waking up at all. Get yourself into the habit of waking the instant your alarm goes off, without attacking the snooze button. This is possibly the most difficult thing in a youngster’s life, but it is possible. Don’t try attaching pins, glue or used condoms to your snooze button because just-awake You is a con artist and you will find a way to hit it.
The better solution is to condition yourself into reacting: darken your room in the middle of the day and set an alarm five minutes into the future. Close your eyes and pretend you’re sleeping. When you hear the alarm, snap out of bed, shut the alarm, stretch and get dressed. Then repeat the whole thing. Do this five times, every day, until it becomes second-nature.
Monitor Your Zzz’s
Sometimes the best way to fix something is to track it. Since smartphones can detect movement and listen for noise, there are tons of cheap apps that can monitor your sleep patterns. Sleep Cycle is an incredibly popular iPhone app that tracks your movements during sleep to wake you up during your lightest sleep phase. (If you’ve ever awoken randomly several hours before your alarm but felt perflectly relaxed, you know what that’s like.) Just lay your phone between the mattress and sheets while charging and the app will do its magic. You can also track your sleep quality and correlate daily habits (e.g. “drank coffee” or “feeling stressed”) to make informed decisions about what’s affecting your sleep. On Android, try SleepBot.
If you’re serious about monitoring sleep, buy a FitBit. It’s a tiny, inexpensive wireless activity montior that tracks how active you are during the day and how well you’re sleeping at night. It will even vibrate to wake you up. Zeo is another option, but it’s expensive.
Play With Your Dreams
Sick of erotic dreams about sandwiches? Force yourself to dream about what you want with Sigmund, a unique iPhone app that repeats verbal stimuli to push your dreams toward a chosen topic, like flying or being at the beach. Or maybe you’ll just have an exotic dream about flying sandwiches that takes place on the beach. Either way, you’ll be at the beach.
For a real kick, download Sleep Talk Recorder and see what your subconscious is saying (or singing, god forbid). The app only records when it hears you mouthing off, so if you’re lucky you’ll wake up to a neat little recording. Upload it to their database and make sure to LOL at the funniest submissions on their website.
Remember those sound machines they used to sell in SkyMall and at Walgreens? You know, the six-button speakers still found in budget hotels that rotate between crashing waves and a choo-choo train? (Full disclosure: author bought one from Fingerhut when he was ten, and all of his friends were jealous.) Well, you don’t need to buy one anymore because many apps can DJ your zen session. Download any of several relaxation apps like Sleep Pillow Sounds for access to crackling fires, lullabies and nature’s soundtrack. Instead of bloating your disc space with long relaxing sounds, use an app to take advantage of looping and mixing options. We love mixing ocean waves with rain.
If hypnotherapy is your thing, try one of Andrew Johnson’s apps. He’ll soothe you with guided meditations for relaxation, deep sleep or even phobias. It’s also worth scanning the Internet or your favorite file sharing site for free tracks, particularly guided power naps, which are perfect for quick rehabilitation around campus.
Or, Sleep Differently
As an experiment following a particularly confusing jet lag, I tried out polyphasic sleeping for part of winter break. This involved an altered rhtyhm of sleeping several times per day rather than from evening to the following morning; I took medium-length naps whenever tired, letting me gain more awake hours per day and appear wired at all times. Energy levels quickly improved, but I found myself disoriented by simple things like the day of week and time.
But who are we kidding, you’ll just snap back to the old ways after one weekend of partying. It is a cycle, after all.